Derry-Londonderry was awarded the inaugural UK City of Culture designation for 2013. As part of the City of Culture programme, there are a number of on-going and once-off events in the area of arts and health and arts and disability, including Six Strings and Stigma, an arts and mental health project, Arts Care’s Here and Beyond, a large scale dance and disability performance, and the Extraordinary People Project which aims to involve hard to reach groups and communities in cultural activities.

Six Strings and Stigma, delivered by the Beacon Centre and supported by the Public Health Agency (PHA), will capture the experiences of individuals with enduring mental health needs. They will present their stories to local songwriters such as Paddy Nash, John Deery, Declan McLaughlin, Little Hooks and Eamon Friel, who will create an album of original songs that highlight the stigma associated with a diagnosis of mental illness and how people have overcome it and achieved recovery in their lives. The album, alongside a film on the collaborative process, will be launched to coincide with World Mental Health Day on Thursday 10 October at the Verbal Arts Centre.

Arts Care will host Here and Beyond, a large scale dance and disability performance, at the City of Culture Venue, Ebrington Square on Saturday 1 June. Over a hundred mixed ability dancers of all ages will come together under the artistic direction of London-based Choreographer Cheryl McChesney assisted by choreographers Carmel Garvey, Jenny Elliott and Artistic Director of Indepen-dance, Karen Anderson. Tickets for this event can be booked here.

Through the Extraordinary People Project, a collaboration between Culture Company 2013 and the Public Health Agency (PHA), hard to reach groups/communities such as the travelling community, LGBT and Looked after Children, have the opportunity to participate in cultural workshops and classes including photography, painting, crochet, comic art, flag-making, Tai Chi, pottery, healthy cooking, singing, graffiti art, DJing and music production. The project is taking place in several venues around the city with the aim of providing unique learning experiences, connecting people and inspiring creativity.

Destined, a support organisation for people with learning disabilities based in the Derry City Council area, will deliver a project under the theme of Invisible Lives. In 2009, Destined published a book called Invisible Lives that contained the life stories of its members. The follow-up project will involve 40 people being represented by life size cut-outs of themselves with a personal statement challenging popular perceptions of people with learning disabilities. The 40 representations will be on display throughout different venues in the city for the period of 2013.

To learn more about the Derry-Londonderry City of Culture programme please visit


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